Monday, June 27, 2016

Audiobook Review: How to Be a Normal Person by TJ Klune

normal audioTitle: How to Be a Normal Person

Author: TJ Klune

Narrator: Derrick McClain

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release: 15 April 2016

Length: 11 hours and 7 minutes

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance


Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he's fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie's Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn't normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?


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Iro’s Review

How to Be a Normal Person isn't a normal story and that is the best thing about it. TJ Klune's insane humor is slightly subdued in this case but since it permeates every single bit of the story it still has the desired effect. That's a long, satisfying read with a whole cast of characters and apart from a few phrasings that I side eyed at, I dare say it is one of my favorite books by the author. I'll even admit to getting misty eyed and sighing at some points. But mostly, it was laughing and snorting and fondly facepalming.

Gustavo Tiberius isn't normal. He has no friends his age, he is grumpy and scowls a lot, and he reads the encyclopedia for fun. Losing his father a few years back is still affecting him, and sticking to his strict routine and avoiding most social interactions are his way of dealing with loss. His life is mostly just okay and predictable and he is content with that. Who like surprises, right?

Enter Casey, hipster, asexual, who is new to town and who finds Gustavo, his scowls and his pet ferret fascinating, and Gustavo's life is turned upside down. Suddenly Gus wants to be normal, because Casey should be with a normal person and a happy Casey is all that Gus wants. So Gustavo meets a search engine for the first time in his almost 30 years of life, and the craziness begins, because what is it that defines normalcy and is Gustavo equipped to find out while stumbling through the porn ridden maze that is the Internet?

This was a slow burn romance with lots of funny moments and sweet feels. I really liked Gus and Casey together and how they were drawn together despite being almost polar opposites. I laughed so much with Gustavo's Internet adventures and with his interactions with stoned Casey and I absolutely adored the subtle existence of the ferret. Gustavo experiencing happiness again and falling for someone for the first time was adorable and even tear-worthy and made me wish he could see that nobody wanted him to change and that he was loved by many people just for being him. When Gus went and opened his mouth while stressed, saying the most nonsensical and out of context things, he had me laughing out loud – he really is one of the most adorable, awkward, bitchy characters I've ever enjoyed.

How to Be A Normal Person is every bit the romantic comedy, only deconstructed and reassembled with deliciously insane humor, surreal big-hearted characters, a healthy mockery of clich├ęs and social media fascination, all centering on the very real and human need of being accepted for who you are. I think that anyone who is a fan of TJ Klune's writing would enjoy it, but even those who gravitate to other styles should try a story as “weird and abnormal and strange” as Gustavo Tiberius himself – it might surprise you!


As unrealistic, crazy and bizarre as I hoped and expected it would be, this was an audiobook I enjoyed once I got used to the narrator. I don't know why the narration didn't work for me from the beginning. Derrick McClain's voice is great and his style brilliant, but I think it wasn't what I expected for a story like this. That being said, the combination grew on me after a few chapters and I was able to enjoy the book in all its glorious weirdness. I loved the humor in it, and the narrator's talent in bringing it out and making every character easily discernible made this considerably long audiobook (more than 11 hours long) a joy to listen, too. I don't know how he managed to flesh out Gustavo and his personal brand of absurdity so perfectly, but he did and that was the cherry on top!


Audio Excerpt


Meet TJ Klune 

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn’t think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, over two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder. But that’s okay, because he’s recently become a full-time writer, and can give them the time they deserve.
Since being published, TJ has won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance, fought off three lions that threatened to attack him and his village, and was chosen by Amazon as having written one of the best GLBT books of 2011.
And one of those things isn’t true.
(It’s the lion thing. The lion thing isn’t true.)

Tj can be reached at



Meet Derrick McClain

13845656_thumbEver since my voice dropped, people have been telling me I “should go into radio”…

What people don’t realize is that you don’t go into radio just because people like the sound of your voice. You go into radio because you have a passion for what’s on the radio – for music, or for news, or sports. While I can appreciate these things, I don’t have a passion for them.

Now, books on the other hand…books I can get behind.

After eight years of professional and competitive public speaking and (live) oral interpretation of literature, Derrick has turned his powerful voice to the world of audiobooks.

While he enjoys reading, listening to, and narrating a wide variety of genres, he has a particular affinity and passion for romance novels of all types.

Derrick records in a professional quality studio at his home in Tallahassee, FL, where he enjoys the quiet North Florida lifestyle along with his fiance and insanely hyper dog. He has previously lived in rural Pennsylvania as well as Orange County California, and has extensively traveled the United States, becoming familiar with a wide range of American accents and sub-cultures.



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